IT Industry Reacts to the Union Budget 2018

IT Industry Reacts to the Union Budget 2018

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Entire nation would be having thought about impacts of budget 2018 India after time when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley declares the union budget of India 2018. This sector expects FM to build such a fund for a custom free zone so that the repairs made to the CGST by the states can be made to the electronics and software companies. Custom duty on Consumer Electronics and Home Appliance Products should be increased by 20% in order to increase investment in India by bringing down imports. Because of the low custom duty on the BCD, electronic goods manufacturers prefer to import BCD. That is why Indian IT companies are also demanding 10% custom duty increase on PCB. The long awaited union budget 2018-19 is here. The reactions from the industry are mixed. The budget looks positive on many fronts, but on some fronts, some experts believe, it is disappointing. Below are comments from some industry experts.

Mr. Sumeer Chandra, Managing Director, HP Inc. India

“The Government has taken a very balanced approach in Union Budget 2018 with a special focus on strengthening the rural economy, infrastructure development and helping small and medium businesses. Government’s vision to move from black board to digital board schools by 2022, revitalization and upgrading of education sector through increased fund allocation and focus on education related research will create a brighter future for the young. We are enthused by the government’s focus on skills development and empowering students with the right educational tools. We are also thrilled with the Government’s emphasis on promoting research and use cases for digital manufacturing and 3D printing. We believe this technology will enable speedy growth of the manufacturing industry and help India in becoming a major manufacturing hub.”

Mr.Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director at Barco Electronic Systems

“The Union Budget 2018-19 is a balanced budget that I believe will help drive & sustain long-term growth for India. The increased focus on higher infrastructure spends, smart cities, digital India, and healthcare is a step in the right direction. With 99 smart cities being selected and an amount of over Rs. 2 lakh crore being allocated, it will give the nation a significant opportunity to upscale its Infrastructure as a growth driver. In addition, doubling the Digital India budget allocation this year is a step ahead towards becoming a digital-first economy which will assist in reshaping and empowering the country by leveraging technology. The budget also brings momentum to India’s Healthcare by announcing Rs. 1,200 crore for 1.5 lakh wellness health centers, which is set to bring advancements in the Indian Healthcare sector. Furthermore, we hope that impact due to the increased customs duties will offset the government’s dedicated push towards promoting manufacturing in India. All in all, the budget is set to have a transformational impact and give a massive boost to the economy.”

Mr. Rajeev Jain, CFO, Intex Technologies:

“The Budget is focused towards increasing the personal disposable income in rural India and critical areas like education, health and infrastructure. This will further enhance the Make in India initiative of the Government in critical electronic industry particularly mobile, which is the key product of all the Government’s initiatives. The Budget will spur the demand side of the economy by proposing various rural income enhancement schemes and reducing various pain areas of farmers. This will in turn rejuvenate the overall economic growth and spur demand for consumer electronics items like mobile phones and LED TVs thereby fuelling domestic businesses. Intex has been known to cater to the developing Tier 2 and 3 cities since inception with its affordable consumer products and with the various rural personal disposable income enhancement schemes introduced in the budget, it will give a fillip to the sale and demand of electronic products.”

Mr.Arjuun Bajaj (CEO and Founder of Daiwa)

“According to the government notification, there is an increase of 20 per cent on complete TV set and 15 per cent on sum of the led tv parts, which is good for manufacturers. The However, now for manufacturers the biggest challenge is for them is 10%  i.e. custom duty on open sell which lead to bare min gap between manufacturer and importer, and TV’s made in India more expensive. Would request the government to   make it back to  0 % duty on the open cell to promote Make In India and pass benefit to the manufacturers. For further GST should be reduced to from 28 % to 18 % as TV is now a necessity and not a luxury item. Overall, the budget is development oriented fulfilling the ease of doing business and ease of living for citizens.”

Mr, Shrenik Bhayani, GM, Kaspersky Lab (South Asia)

“The union budget of 2018, very evidently pictures a positive growth that the government has shown towards digitalization in India. Their push towards the research efforts in Artificial Intelligence is a smart step taken by Mr. Arun Jaitley. The aim to setup 5 lakh hotspots is a great step, which also calls the need for being alert on the cybersecurity front. People need to be educated about antivirus solutions and be made aware about not falling for phishing attacks. The blockchain can be an effective technology and I feel that exploring Block Chain Technology for payments is a brave step taken by the government. I am excited for the development of this remarkable and useful technology in our country, as it is in fact increasingly being implemented by a vast number of industries. At the same time, it can be an attractive target for cybercriminals. Some cyberthreats have been inherited from e-payments, such as changing the address of the destination wallet address during transactions and stealing an electronic wallet, among other things. Therefore, we should remain vigilant to stay secure.”

Mr. Ashish P. Dhakan, MD & CEO, Prama Hikvision India Pvt. Ltd.

“ The Union Budget 2018 is a shining example of fiscal prudence with an investment focus on Infrastructure Sector and Railways. The government’s thrust on Infrastructure Sector (₹ 5.97 Lakh Crore) and Railways (₹1.48 Lakh Crore) would have a positive outcome on the economy. These initiatives will drive the security industry in a whole new growth phase.  We welcome the government’s move to double the allocation on the Digital India programme to₹3,073 crore — a decision that will help the research and skilling in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT), among others. We also appreciate the government’s resolve to support the establishment of centres of excellence for Research, Training and Skilling in Robotics, AI, Digital Manufacturing, Big Data Analytics, Quantum Communication and IoT. Ninety-nine cities have been selected with an outlay of ₹2.09 lakh crore under the Smart City programme. Redevelopment of 600 major railway stations has been taken up. All stations with more than 25,000 footfalls will have escalators. All trains to be progressively provided with Wi-FI, CCTV and other state-of-the-art amenities. UDAN shall connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads in the country. A   fund of ₹60 crore has been allocated for disaster resilient infrastructure. These initiatives will boost the prospects of security and surveillance industry in India.”

Mr. Sunil Sharma, MD-Sales for Sophos India & SAARC

“With the rise in bitcoin’s popularity and a strong warning to act with “extreme caution” and understand the significant risks of choosing to invest in cryptocurrencies, it’s no wonder 2018-19’s budget has a special emphasis on taking measures to stop cryptocurrency circulation and explore the usage of Blockchain technology. Cryptocurrency is popular with cybercrooks and usually cryptocurrency is the end, rather than the means of the crime, for example, when crooks infect your computer with coin mining software to hijack your CPU to earn money, or scramble your data with ransomware and demand that you pay them in cryptocoins to get it back.” Sharma further added, “We welcome the reduction in corporate tax as it will be a growth enabler to the entire micro and SMEs.”

Mr. Rajesh Maurya, Regional Vice President, India & SAARC, Fortinet.

“The Wi-Fi hotspots, New Smart Cities, internet connectivity, investments in Telecom infrastructure and Digital India expansion are going to witness proliferation of online devices, and the hyperconnectivity towards which India is heading needs to be secured with a very sound cybersecurity policy. Data Protection is a top priority, and a security approach that leverages the power of automation, integration, and strategic segmentation backed by threat intelligence are critical to the implementation of the above programs. The collective brilliance that the digital and cybersecurity communities have amassed in our country is staggering—with each new generation poised to push us further. At one time, we were challenged not to ask what our country could do for us but what we could do for our country. It is time that the leading organizations in digital technology come together once again to ask the same ‘what we can do for our country’ to protect our new digital empire.”

Mr. Sudhindra Holla, Country Manager – Axis Communications, India & SAARC.

“We applaud the Government on the successful presentation of the Union Budget 2018. We are very optimistic with the focus given to safety measures in the railways, tracks & metros, equipped with CCTVs and WiFis. Vandal resistant cameras, light finder technology and thermal cameras will help in curbing crimes, give fog alerts and provide more timely action. Additionally, emphasis on the Smart City programme with an estimated ₹2.09 lakh crore outlay and improved connectivity across interiors, the national corridors and borders will involve use of higher end surveillance solutions going forward, making citizens more upbeat on such critical safety measures.”

Mr. Padmanabha Krishnamurthy, CFO at Paladion Networks.  Paladion Networks

“The 2018 budget has a strong focus on Agriculture, Healthcare, and Rural Development. I believe this will contribute to the holistic growth of India. The reduced corporate tax rates to the MSME sector are welcome, but I hope it is in the books to extend this benefit to all companies soon. The continued focus on digital growth by the Government including a special focus on Cyber Security with the launch of Centers of Excellence is a huge necessity for India and I am happy to see it in this Budget. Finance Minister has tried to keep the fiscal deficit within the target limits. Overall it is a prudent and growth-oriented budget. “

Mr. Rajesh Rege, MD, Red Hat, India and SAARC

“It was a well-rounded budget. Emphasis on education, entrepreneurship & healthcare was much needed & is welcome. FM’s comments on AI & Blockchain are a step in the right direction & we look to an early implementation of these initiatives.”

Mr. Anil Valluri, President, NetApp India & SAARC

“India’s Budget FY18: A Continued thrust on transformation. The last few years have seen large initiatives designed to bring about substantive change. The FY18 budget marks time, with its particular focus on agriculture, healthcare and infrastructure and the continued thrust on the MSME segment. The focus on wide scale broadband access, on Machine learning, AI and robotics, on R&D as well as skilling, and on Smart Cities will keep pushing India’s Digital agenda, well supported by the additional fund allocation. It is a quietly progressive budget, and timed well to focus on readying all cross sections of Indian society to reap the benefits of the future.”

Mr. Limesh Parekh, Enjay IT Solutions

“Apart from other regular things, there are few steps which actually show the intent and vision of the government. Few Examples: 1. Progress towards Universal Health System nationwide; 2. MSME reforms and PM Mudra Yojana will enhance effectiveness of small enterprises; 3. Strengthening of railways and powerful agricultural policies will enhance and   strengthen agricultural backbone of Indian economy; and 4. Programs for preventing brain drain and B.Ed. programs for technical teachers is a   good step. I think these steps prove that current government is concerned about building great Nation.”

Mr.Ramesh Mamgain, Area Vice President, India and SAARC Region, Commvault

“Doubling allocations towards Digital India and enhancing the National Mission on Cyberspace Security sets the tone to protect the data of India Inc. and its citizens. Unique IDs for companies will definitely go a long way in contributing towards interest of the nation and increasing transparency by corporates. Commvault, with its global industry leading solutions, is also committed to partnering with the GoI and India Inc. in building a robust data protection framework.”

Mr. Ramki Gaddipati, Zeta Co-founder and CTO 

“We welcome government’s proposal to allow a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 as it is a reward for the salaried class. The standard deduction will help employees to reduce their tax liability. It is also heartening to see that our government is talking about reducing paperwork and compliance overheads, which has been our objective as well. For the last two years, Zeta has been enabling salaried people to digitize their employee tax benefits and help them save more money.”

Mr. Ajey Mehta, VP India, HMD Global

“HMD Global continues its strong emphasis on PM Modi’s Make in India campaign. While the import duties for mobile phones increased to 20%, along with a 15% duty on key components, this will have a minimum impact on our business, as all our current portfolio of Nokia phones are manufactured in India.”

Mr. KK Mookhey, Founder & CEO, Network Intelligence:

Speaking about the highlights related to Information Technology sector of the 2018 Union Budget, KK Mookhey, CEO & Founder of Network Intelligence, a global cybersecurity firm, said “The move to make cryptocurrencies illegal is a major announcement; it is likely to create a negative impact on the price of these currencies, especially Bitcoin. A better idea may have been to come out with some sort of a regulatory framework around cryptocurrencies. On the other hand, the point raised by the Finance Minister about exploring the usage of blockchain technology for payments is a very good initiative. It will support homegrown technologies who have already invested in the technology and will attract new investments in this technology. It is a positive sign to see that 5 lakh wifi-hotspots will be set up covering 5 crore rural citizens. This falls in place with the country’s Digital vision. We would have liked to see more substantial movement on setting up the CERT-Fin for the financial sector.”

Mr. Amit Singh, Co Founder and Smart City Expert, Yitsol Technologies

“Smart City is “THE SOLUTION” to deal with massive population growth, rural to urban migration, and depleting city resources. I welcome the budget allocation for smart cities, and this should become the catalyst to transform our cities. However this focus for smart cities should not be just for once, but continuous. With increased government focus, we should look forward for more advanced technological innovations in the area of smart city implementation. Usage of Artificial AI to control urban management systems, including traffic lights and emergency dispatch of all services. Real-time data analysis of the traffic would enable the city authorities to plan better city traffic management.”

Mr. Sriram S, Co-Founder at iValue InfoSolutions

“It’s a pragmatic budget and not a popular one as many expected to focus on the key needs like agriculture, rural and the poor. Also, some of the senior citizen issues have been addressed. Healthcare has been given importance along with insurance sops. “Great to see that the corporate tax rates are cut down to 25% for business up to 250 crore. It would have been better if it was linked to net income rather than the gross income. Most IT partners will get benefitted with this measure. The Government could have given more thrust to Digital India, Make in India and Smart City initiatives with incentives for digital payments. The Re-introduction of LTCG without removing STT was a real disappointment. Overall a good budget with money being spent judiciously where required.”

Mr.Prashanth GJ, CEO at TechnoBind

“We will call this a pro-Industry budget from IT industry’s perspective. The biggest announcement being the reduction of corporate tax for MSME’s from 30% to 25% for companies with a turnover of 250 crores is a welcoming move. This will benefit around 90% of Indian firms and will help generate additional revenue. The Government’s push for cybersecurity is also one of the most awaited measures. “The boost to infrastructure and telecom sector with a gentle push to Digital India will incentivize the IT industry. The Government’s support for the use of blockchain will open gates for many new players as well as increasing the competition in this sector. Also, its commitment to research in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, big data and machine learning will assist the IT industry further.”

Mr. Raja Ram, Commercial Director at NetRack

“We welcome the Union Budget 2018-19. This budget is an actual game changer and IT & Manufacturing industry will be benefited by the announcements. The positive change in customs duty will help the manufacturing sector dearly and boost the industry. The Government has undoubtedly considered the issues of MSMEs and the extension in the reduction of corporate tax to 25% for companies with turnover up to 250 crores will definitely work in favour of corporate. The announcements for Infrastructure upgrade and incentives for enterprises are much-needed reforms we were eagerly waiting for. Overall we are happy with the announcements.”

Mr. Sridhar Krishna, Chairman & MD of Sankhya InfoTech.

The Union Budget 2018 presented addressed many of the concerns of rural India and that of the MSME sector. We applaud Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley, for introducing measures to alleviate some of the pain points they suffer. The outlay for healthcare and education is a much needed boost to create a more healthy and skilled & educated India. On the civil aviation front, Finance Minister unveiled plans to increase the number of airports in the country by 5 times in this year from a current total of 124. India is the third largest and the fastest growing domestic aviation market in the world with respect to the number of domestic tickets sold, and this plan will greatly aid in growing the number of trips to one billion a year. It further mentioned 56 new airports and 31 new helipads will be connected under the UDAN scheme. The massive expansion, as envisaged, will have a multiplier effect on employment opportunities in the aviation sector. It will also have a commensurate effect on training requirements which are of a critical nature. Pilots, airport staff, baggage handlers, among others will have to be given proper training to minimise untoward incidents, potential accidents and be on the ready to deal with emergencies such as that of Indigo Airlines in the recent past. The mismanagement and rude behaviour by the crew members highlights the need to improve the standard of training the professionals in the industry.  In a major step, the Budget announced the largest government-funded health insurance scheme to be implemented anywhere in the world. The sheer size and coverage of the scheme committed will require investment to train and skill additional resources and address shortage of qualified medical professionals. India lacks trained experts, and the corresponding measure to increase the number of medical colleges will provide a boost. However, this needs to also be backed by improvements in training. Technology can help bridge the gap here, with cloud and virtual reality based training modules, there are now more efficient pathways for this front of line critical care providers to be on top of their game.

Mr. Surendra Singh, Country Director, Forcepoint 

“The government has come out with a truly ‘Bharat’ budget and has introduced several inclusive digital programmes for rural India to reap benefits of information technology. From doubling the outlay for promoting digital economy for the next year and plans to speed-up digitisation with initiatives such as implementing five lakh WI-FI hotspots to provide the internet to rural citizens, connecting one lakh gram panchayats via internet cables, announcing a national program to direct efforts in Artificial Intelligence and increased digital intensity in the education sector are welcome steps. However, as more technology use grows amongst people so would be the need to become aware of cyber threats. Cyber security will now be more important than ever for securing digital assets as more and more people connect and conduct business using technology. There is a requirement of holistic strategy that provides cybersecurity frameworks for both public and private sectors with the government educating and ensuring compliance. The strategy should be all encompassing including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as they don’t have expertise to deal with emerging cyber security attacks. A lot more focus needs to be put on educating the public and it is not just the government but also a corporate responsibility.”


‘Make in India’ initiative has given clear indications of a continued focus on the growth of new businesses in India. The announcement of increase in basic customs duty on mobile phones to 20% is a concrete step towards fostering local manufacturing in India which would further fuel indigenous innovation. This will allow us to build an innovation engine pipeline of several global brands in the country.